Food production on local resources: herding sheep to mountain pastures

Norwegian tradition and a family farm

As old a tradition as animal husbandry in Norway, is the practice of bringing animals higher up in the landscape for summer grazing. The highland and mountain pastures turn green later than down at the farms, which makes the animals able to utilize the local and natural resources to their full potential. After grazing the spring and early summer grass at home pastures, they are moved higher up to let the pastures replenish and grow for winter fodder. While the animals are grazing elsewhere, the farmers harvest and dry or press the grass for winter— making sure that they can feed their herds on local resources also through the cold season. Not only is this a practice to secure food safety, but a practice to tend to the land around us as stewards of our cultural landscapes. These carry so many diverse and important life forms exactly because of the symbiosis between grazing animals and the plants, insects and bacteria present there. This build resilience into the system.

Reflections

Many thoughts populated my mind during the two days I joined the farm, but one thing kept coming back to me. How is it possible that we (as in consumers, people in general) keep complaining about food prices being too high, when this is how much work that goes into the food we eat? How is it possible that farmers get paid nickels and dimes for their meat, when the price consumers see when shopping is something totally different? There is of course work done on several stages after the animals leave the farm, before it ends up in some shop. The people doing these jobs also needs to be paid. But the gap between farmers’ pay and what you and I pay in the supermarket is too big to go unnoticed. If we want people to keep producing food in Norway at all, we have to make sure there is any point for them to do so. Because it’s not as romantic a fairytale as we would like to imagine.

Storytelling from a first-time herder

Two days of hard work was needed to get the sheep safely to their summer pastures. On Friday we gathered all the sheep and lamb from the different fields they were grazing around the farm. They were all joined in the sheep barn to be weighed, tagged with GPS and given bells. This took several (very warm) hours, and required ear plugs for the patient workers, as the sheep were a loud crowd. In the evening they were brought up to the farm’s highland site in batches, to stay overnight before our long walk the next day.

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Dagens

Dagens

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Digital platform taking direct food trade between food producers and chefs mainstream — on nature’s premises. www.dagens.farm